HIGHLIGHTS

  • In 2005, he boldly led the so-called “environmental protection storms,” during which seventy-six major energy-generating projects, worth billions of dollars, were either suspended, shut down, or issued ultimatums for non-compliance with environmental regulations.
  • Pan also pushed for the implementation of the controversial “Green GDP,” a national accounting system to determine China’s real national gross domestic product (GDP) adjusted to compensate for negative environmental effects.
  • Introduced on a trial basis in 2004, its implementation was suspended after a few years. But in pushing for this and other measures, Pan set a standard for public action, declaring forthrightly: “China’s development has had a tumultuous history. Now is the time for a fair and sustainable model of growth.”
  • The RMAF board of trustees recognizes “his bold pursuit of a national environmental program, insisting on state and private accountability, encouraging state-citizen dialogue, and raising the environment as an issue of urgent national concern”.

 CITATION

Nowhere in the world is the challenge of environmental protection as dramatic as in China. In just three decades, China has risen to be the world’s third largest economy, a ‘boom’ that has no clear parallel in history in its speed and scale. But China’s aggressive growth has exacted a terrible toll on the environment. It has polluted the country’s skies, decimated its forests, befouled its lakes and rivers, and created conditions that have resulted in disturbing levels of human mortality and community displacement caused by pollution and environmental disasters.

Since 2002, when President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao assumed power, the environment has become a major national concern. New laws have been introduced; initiatives taken to reduce pollution and develop clean energy sources; and the state budget for environmental protection has been substantially increased. These state initiatives, however, are entangled in complex issues of enforcement, public participation, central-local government authority, and inter-ministry cooperation.

In this context, two individuals, from two ends of the state bureaucracy, have done bold, constructive work in seizing and creating opportunities to address China’s environmental crisis.

At the national level, Pan Yue has been a key figure in the Chinese government’s efforts in environmental protection. With a doctorate degree in history, fifty year-old Pan already had a rich and varied career as a government official when he became deputy-director of the State Environmental Protection Administration in 2003. Now vice-minister of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, he has proactively implemented such laws as the Environmental Assessment Law of 2003 and the Open Government Information Regulations of 2007. In doing so, he has taken on some of China’s biggest industries to disclose their environmental practices and to clean up their operations. In 2005, he boldly led the so-called “environmental protection storms,” during which seventy-six energy-generating projects, worth billions of dollars, were either suspended, shut down, or issued ultimatums for non-compliance with environmental regulations.

Moreover, Pan has widened the space for civic participation by encouraging non-government organizations, citizen complaints, and public consultations to address the environmental impact of state and private development projects.

Pan also pushed for the implementation of the controversial “Green GDP,” a national accounting system to determine China’s real national gross domestic product (GDP) adjusted to compensate for negative environmental effects. Introduced on a trial basis in 2004, its implementation was suspended after a few years. But in pushing for this and other measures, Pan set a standard for public action, declaring forthrightly: “China’s development has had a tumultuous history. Now is the time for a fair and sustainable model of growth.”

At the local level, village chief Fu Qiping has shown how great things can be done even in a village as small as Tengtou, eastern China’s Zhejiang province. Tengtou has a population of a mere eight hundred thirty citizens. A farmer who has worked as a village official since 1980 and as village chief since 1997, Fu used the opportunities of China’s decentralized system to turn Tengtou into one of China’s most prosperous villages. Three decades ago, Tengtou was impoverished, flood-prone, and resource-poor. Today, it is known internationally as a “miracle village.” Collectively organized as an economic enterprise, it has built a base in agriculture and ecotourism, operates business companies, and hosts some sixty investors engaged in textile, food processing, and other activities.

Remarkably, all these came hand-in-hand with a commitment to environmental protection. In 1993, Tengtou set up China’s first-ever village-level environmental protection committee that has, among others, rejected over fifty companies wanting to set up shop in Tengtou because they failed to meet environmental standards. The village practices environment-friendly agriculture, invests in renewable energy, boasts of a wastewater treatment system and solar-powered streetlights, and carries out environment-related science-and-education projects.

All these have been made possible by the solidarity of the village and, in large part, by the innovative leadership of sixty-two-year-old Fu Qiping, who has devoted his life to creating a village both environmentally healthy and economically secure. “This is my ideal,” he says, “and it is in pursuing it that I can do my country, party and other villagers proud.”

In electing Pan Yue and Fu Qiping to receive the 2010 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes their exemplary vision and zeal as public servants at two levels of the state bureaucracy, in advocating the inseparability of development and the environment in uplifting the lives of the Chinese people. The board recognizes Pan Yue for his bold pursuit of a national environmental program, insisting on state and private accountability, encouraging state-citizen dialogue, and raising the environment as an issue of urgent national concern; likewise, the board recognizes Fu Qiping for his enterprising leadership and undeniable success in demonstrating how village-level economic development can be achieved without damage to the environment.